W.hen Nyck de Vries became the first driver to win the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, his win was more than just a sign that biodegradable confetti and champagne corks were popping on the podium.
The triumph of the 26-year-old Mercedes EQ team driver was a turning point in our seven-year Formula E history. It marked the climax of the first year of competition as the official FIA World Championship.
Most importantly, his victory demonstrated that it is possible to deliver the entertainment value and global reach associated with top international sport while maintaining industry-leading sustainable practices and operations. All of this has been done in the heart of iconic global cities such as London, New York, Berlin and Rome.
For every driver, engineer, employee or partner of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the proof of what can be achieved in racing is only the first lap of the greatest race ever. Making real and positive change in the fight against the climate crisis is the ultimate victory.
Air pollution is a critical threat to billions of people around the world, and if it’s not controlled, it only gets worse. Today is transport day on Cop26 and now decisive action must be taken to address the problem of air pollution.
More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities; according to the United Nations, it should be 68 percent by 2050. Cities contribute disproportionately to global air pollution, consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and cause more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Gasoline and diesel vehicles are some of the biggest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Traffic is responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions worldwide, with cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles accounting for almost three quarters of vehicle emissions. In countries like the UK and the US, the transport sector is now responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other.
Because of this, the UK and other countries are looking to end gasoline and diesel vehicle sales within the next decade. Accelerating the shift to electric vehicles is the fastest way to tackle air pollution. Cop26 organizers and governments rightly advocate urgent global commitments to transition to electric transport in order to achieve net zero targets by 2050.
Alongside governments, which are taking measures to incentivize the introduction of electric vehicles and create the necessary infrastructure, industry also plays an important role in achieving these goals. For this reason, Formula E was launched seven years ago to promote innovation and collaboration in electric mobility. We bring manufacturers, endemic tech companies, global cities, brands and consumers together to accelerate urgent change.
As the only fully electric motorsport FIA World Championship, Formula E creates a unique technological innovation environment for many of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, DS, Mahindra, Porsche, Mercedes, Nissan and NIO, to accelerate developments from racing to commercial use in the street.
Electric cars on the roads today keep going with every charge thanks to increases in energy efficiency, improvements in battery range and advances in powertrain development achieved through technological advances in the first seven seasons of the championship. Our series title partner ABB is the world’s leading provider of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Our all-electric motorsport raises awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles and, together with our partners, we advocate the global introduction of clean mobility by improving technologies and working with cities to improve infrastructure. The main reason we host our races on the streets of famous cities – in 2022 we’re adding Jakarta, Vancouver, and Seoul to our largest calendar of 16 races to date – is to show these developments in the environments where they can have the greatest impact.
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At Cop26 we are demonstrating the benefits of tackling air pollution and climate change in the world’s cities. Motorsport plays a vital role in accelerating technological developments that can be carried over to everyday use and serves as a powerful platform to showcase innovative transportation solutions for a more sustainable lifestyle.
In partnership with the UN Environment Program, we are raising awareness of the effects of air pollution and promoting solutions such as electromobility and renewable energies to improve the air we breathe. We also partnered with UNICEF’s Safe and Healthy Environment Fund to make a positive impact on three million children. In Mexico, our partnership with UNICEF will create a climate resilient school program in three states by implementing water collection systems and solar panels in schools.
Sport not only drives change by acting as a test bed for innovation, it also plays an important role in inspiring people to live differently. As a founding member and signatory of the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework, which offers the sports sector guidance on concrete measures to combat climate change, we support other sports in improving their activities and present ours. Best practices in sustainability fans.
Formula E is the first sport in the world to be certified carbon-free since its inception. We continuously measure our CO2 impact and reduce it as much as possible. Where we have not been able to achieve further savings, we invest in projects to increase renewable energy generation such as biomass and wind energy. This offsets the entire carbon footprint of our championship, including fan travel and on-site activities on race day.
We’re also the first sport to adhere to science-based goals by pledging to reduce our CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030 based on 2019 emissions.
With the world on alert for climate change, it is time for country, business and community leaders to reflect on their legacy – what will you leave behind?
Jamie Reigle is CEO of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship